Anthony Martial and his relationship with Jose Mourinho has been just one of the many cracks beginning to show between the United gaffer and his players this summer. Manchester United have been dubbed a club in ‘crisis’. This weekend’s 3-2 loss away to Brighton was yet another in a series of unfortunate events for Mourinho and his men.
In the lead-up to the game, everything seemed to be going perfectly. Mourinho was actually praising his players for once, and the starting 11 against was strong. Most notably, the inclusion of Anthony Martial down the left flank brought joy to many fans, given the Frenchman’s frequent absences since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez.
Did Martial make the most of his opportunity? Let’s take a look
During his time on the pitch, it seemed Martial was occupying his usual role of an inverted winger. Martial has remarkable finishing ability for a wide-man, which makes him perfect for the United attack when cutting inside onto his right foot.
As you can see in the above picture, we rarely saw Martial burst into the box from out wide to get a shot off. With Luke Shaw running forward on the overlap, you would think this would free up Martial to try and get into more goalscoring opportunities.
The red lines indicate failed passes, while the blue lines represent successful ones. Also, the stars represent take-ons, green being successful and amber unsuccessful.
Traditionally, Jose Mourinho favours players who work as hard in defence as attack. Judging by the above picture, it’s easy to see why Jose has favoured Alexis Sanchez in recent months.
Martial only made five defensive contributions during the game, three of which were ball recoveries. Meanwhile, he only attempted one tackle – which he failed – and also committed a foul right on the edge of the United box.
It’s clear that Martial’s focus in this game was his contribution to the United attack. Jose has been notorious for the style of play he has implemented at United. But with results like last Sunday’s, it’s easy to see why he would focus so much on defensive solitude.
Martial successfully completed 18 successful passes on Sunday, with a success rate of 90%. However, the Frenchman tallied just one shot at goal which was off target.
The area United need Martial the most in is his contributions when cutting inside. Whether it be gliding a ball across the face of goal for a team-mate to get on the end of, or even cutting inside and curling one into the top corner which has done so well in the past.
Without these contributions, United’s attacking threat down the left-flank is redundant. With Juan Mata occupying the opposite flank, Jose was relying on Martial to be United’s main source of pace in attack.
However, despite enjoying 66.6% of possession, the influence of United’s attackers was minimal. Just three attempts made it on target for the team overall, one of which being Paul Pogba‘s last-minute penalty and another other being Lukaku’s headed goal from four yards out.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably unfair to judge Martial’s performance against Brighton, considering the diabolical performance from the team overall.
Anthony Martial is a player who thrives when those around him are firing on all cylinders. United lacked an attacking prowess overall in the game. Which, when partnered with the shoddy defensive display, concocted a recipe for disaster.
Anthony Martial failed to impress this weekend, but so did the other ten men on the field. However, the reality is that Jose will probably make some major changes ahead of Monday’s monster Bank Holiday clash against Spurs.
If Alexis Sanchez returns to fitness, it’s hard to see Jose choosing Martial over the Chilean. Even if he doesn’t, giving Marcus Rashford his first start out wide may just be the burst of excitement United need so badly.